Heartaches and Holidays

Heartaches and Holidays December 12, 2018

Does it seem like life’s disappointments all pile up this time of year?

Photo credit Brittney Borowski / Lightstock

Aloneness, the grief of a lost loved one, financial hardship, sickness, or a broken relationship is accentuated during the holiday season. At some point in our lives, we will all experience one or more of these challenges around the holidays. So, what do we do with our illuminated pile of disappointments? There are no easy solutions but there are a few things I’ve found to be helpful.

I learned through my own grief and hardships that the giving of ourselves to others, expressing our creativity, prayer, praise, and reading God’s Word is central to overcoming the dark clouds that surround us and  threaten to overtake us.

Give to Others- Giving helps us to take our eyes off ourselves and the issue that’s causing pain and focus on the needs of others. When we give God blesses us. When we give and meet the needs of another, we show love. When we sow seeds of love, we reap a harvest of blessings. Volunteer at a food bank, read to elderly people at a nursing home, be a Hospice volunteer or mentor a teen. If you’re a tradesperson contribute your skills to someone who has need of your labor. Look in the classifieds or online for volunteer opportunities- they’re everywhere. Initiate and be the answer to someone’s need. It’s harder to feel alone and sad when you’re helping someone.

Express Your Creativity- I discovered while I grieved the loss of my son that I had a natural talent to paint on canvas. One of my paintings displayed a self-portrait expressing that particular stage of my grief- which I cherish to this day. Did you know that creating helps process our pain? I uncovered many hidden talents during my journey through grief. I also took up dance, writing, and acting. I fully believe God gives us gifts in the dark to give to others which ultimately are given back to Him for His glory. When we find ways to creatively express our pain, we give ourselves away. We naturally find delight in giving and creating because we are made in the image of God who is the Master Creator and Giver of Life! What creative thing have you always wanted to do? Do it.

Prayer, Praise, and Reading God’s Word-First and foremost believing that “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18) is paramount to our relationship with Christ. We know God is close to us, but are we cultivating a close and intimate relationship with Him by giving ourselves to Him through prayer? God is more than enough for us and His Word is our bread of life. Giving our time by talking to God, reading and meditating on scripture that pertains to our particular circumstance gives us the confidence in God’s ability. It helps us from being overcome with destructive emotions. Suggestion- reading the book of Psalm when overwhelmed with emotion like David was brings comfort to our souls. When we hear the Word of God it penetrates our heart, so try reading it aloud.

Giving praise to the Lord and expressing our thankfulness and love for Him in dark times changes the atmosphere, and it has the power to change the direction of our emotions. God delights in our sacrificial praise. There is a blessing that comes when we give Him praise, especially when we don’t feel like it.

How many ways can you give yourself this holiday season to help overcome life’s heartaches?

About MaryJo Petersen Castro
MaryJo Petersen Castro is the Communications Director at Courage For Life in Marietta, GA. As a creative leader and communicator, she has served in full-time ministry since 2003. MaryJo has worked in and produced content for live media, television, and film in the Atlanta, GA and Greenville, SC markets. You can read more about the author here.

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